SRINAGAR: Shabir Hussain, 51, a universal donor, has saved more than one hundred lives by donating his blood – 156 times over the last 37 years – prompting doctors to call him ‘the man with the golden arm’.
Shabir, however, is miffed with the Health Department for not providing facilities to blood donors in times of emergencies.
From Downtown Srinagar, this papier-mâché artist began donating blood when he was 28-years-old. As time passed, more donors joined him: he now leads 2100 volunteers across Kashmir who are available during emergencies for blood donation. His last donation was at LD hospital last week where he broke his own record of blood donations.
Javeed Iqbal Khan, in-charge blood donation camp, said, “Shabir has broken several fears among people regarding blood donation and has motivated hundreds of people to donate blood. More and more people are donating blood because of him.”
Shabir recalls his first blood donation in 1980. He says his friend was critically injured while playing football. Shabir and three of other friends had to beg for blood as it was not sufficiently available in the blood bank. All the four friends accompanying the injured took a pledge to be regular blood donors and they have been tirelessly donating blood. “We were already providing first aid services during Moharam processions and we want to continue serving community outside the Moharram as well,” he said.
Os 1980s and 90s, there was no mobile phone connectivity in Srinagar. Shabir would wait for announcements on radio from different hospitals seeking blood donations. “I am a universal donor. God has gifted me with rare O-negative blood group” he said. He feels that his blood group was the unique quality which “can be used to serve god and humanity”.
He said people with vested interests and political affiliations gets easily recognized, but not the friends. “Despite saving so many lives”, he says, “We have not been able get a single pass (for entry to hospitals) from the health administration”.
A few days back, I went to SKIMS to donate blood but the security guards stopped me and asked for my identity which should not have happened.”
Moments, he says, can make a difference to somebody’s life. “Here people don’t understand this thing. They don’t even provide us ambulances. We overlook these things because we are doing it for the sake of god and our aim is to help people irrespective of their caste, colour and religion etc,” he said.
Shameema Begum, 50, from Shopian recalls the time, twelve years ago, when Shabir’s blood saved her life. She says she owes her life to him. “He came as an angel and saved me. Millions of rupees couldn’t have done what he did,” she said.
Shabir is considered a hero among his peers. He has won numerous awards. He began with four people and grew it into a moment. His work was subsequently recognised by Red Cross Society, civil defence and social groups like ‘Athwas’, who guided him and provided technical support to him.
Fayaz Ahmad, a programme coordinator at Red Cross Society Kashmir, said Shabir is a life member of Red Cross. Fayaz says he wants blood donations to become even more common. “I appeal everyone to come for flood donation so that they can save precious lives,” he says. “I want to see a blood group labels pasted on either helmet or on the sleeves of motorists so that doctors do not waste time in checking it in case they met with accidents. There is nothing more precious than a human life,” he said.